Flat Earthism is more Right than Young Earth Creationism

In science there are varying degrees of ‘wrongness.’ In my research I regularly measure the current through small channels (5-30 nm in diameter). It turns out that to a good first approximation the system obeys Ohm’s law (voltage = current x resistance). However, it turns out that upon closer inspection, this is not quite right! There are deviations from Ohm’s law if you try to put too many ions through the channel at once (i.e. an interplay between the background concentration and the size of the channel) or many other possible nanoscale interactions. It turns out that instead of:

V=iR

you need to use a coupled set of differential equations (Poisson’s Law to describe the concentration of ions inside the channel due to surface charges of the channel it self and the Nernst-Planck equations that describes the motion of charges- note there’s also the equations for fluid flow that aren’t shown here):

\nabla \phi^2=-\rho/\epsilon; \rho=\rho_0 e^{-\frac{ze\phi}{k_BT}}

and

j=-D(\frac{dc}{dx}-c \frac{z F}{k_BT} \frac{dV}{dx})

These equations are virtually impossible to solve analytically and thus approximations must be made (i.e. if the potential of the surface is smaller than the thermal energy these equations can be simplified). And we know that this solution is still not correct. But a good question is: is an approximation to the different equations more or less wrong than using Ohm’s law? It’s obviously less wrong or ‘more right.’

Let’s recap before moving on to the original title of the post.

  • To a first approximation, Ohm’s law is approximately correct under certain conditions.
  • Ohm’s law needs modified and nearly entirely replaced to describe the transport through small channels yet still remains a good approximation.
  • We know that we don’t have the exact solution, yet our present solution is closer than previous models/calculations.

The Flat Earth Model vs. YEC

First, the flat earth model…

  • The earth is approximately flat. Instead of curving 0 miles per every mile, it curves just 0.000126 miles per mile. Yet this tiny difference adds up and the model becomes much wronger over large distances.
  • Yet a spherical model is also not quite right. The earth bulges just slightly at the waist and thus is better described to be an “oblate spheroid.” How much deviation from a sphere is the Earth? The equatorial diameter is 7917 miles and the polar diameter is 7900 miles, or a deviation from a perfect sphere of less than 0.1%.
  • Yet even this is not quite right as the earth has local bulges and dips due to gravitational attraction and is best described by the geodetic model:
  • In summary, the flat earth model is a good approximation. But it is more wrong than the spherical model. The spherical model is more wrong than the oblate spheroid. The oblate spheroid is more wrong than the geodetic model. And on top of all of these models there are mountains and valleys which provide further deviation of up to 0.2%!

Isaac Asimov described this progression well in his essay: The Relativity of Wrong

The YEC model:

  • There are no measurements that are approximately in agreement with the YEC model.
  • There is nothing that anyone can point to an measure, getting an age of 6,000 years. The only thing advocates of this model can do is a) try to point out maximum ages for things that are smaller than numbers like 13.8 billion or 4.5 billion or b) argue that God created things with apparent age.
  • Examples of the former include infamous arguments like “galaxies wind too fast,” “the oceans would be too salty,” “too few supernova remnants,” etc. These are always fascinating because they provide no positive evidence for a 6,000 year universe. They also require one to ignore or cherry-pick through scientific literature with some being based on complete lies.
  • There are no measurements of anything ever that provide actual support for this model.
  • In short, the flat earth model is more right than the YEC model.
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The shape of the Earth and the age of the Earth are two two different things so can they really be compared?
However while the flat earth model deviates a small amount even over one mile from the round earth the error grows rapidly so that over 3950 miles the error is about 3950 miles.
In contrast the old earth and young earth models correspond exactly over the last 3000 years at least.
Hence I would say that the old earth model is more right than the flat earth, but not by much.

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The comparison is that both are based upon actual measurements. If you measure the curvature of the Earth, it is not much different from flat earth. If you measure the age of the Earth, it is way different from a young earth. In other words, main difference is that no measurements return anything close to a young earth while measurements of the Earth’s curvature are relatively close to the flat earth model.

When one compares the models to reality, one finds that the young earth model is off by 750,000 years every year. The old earth model is based upon actual measurements and the same for the flat earth model. More accurate measurements strengthened the old earth model and weakened the flat earth model. No measurements actually support the young earth model.

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Apples and oranges. Flat Earthers have developed an elaborate physical “theory” (out of lord knows what motives, since even the ancient Greeks knew the Earth was spherical) Sheer contrarianism is my guess, combined with the conspiracy theory that all those photos of Earth from space and the moon are fake. From what I’ve read of it, the Flat Earth theory is actually kind of cool as a piece of pseudo-science, given the rather elaborate construction it involves.

The Young Earth theory, on the other hand (in my understanding at least) has little if anything to do with actual science and everything to do with fundamentalist Christian belief. This belief includes the belief that Genesis is literally true, in which case believers who buy into YE need also to buy into the idea that God made the Earth look like it’s billions of years old and planted all those fossils just to test our faith. (Which makes God sound pretty sneaky to me but let that go.) I have read arguments that simply question the actual age of the fossil and geological evidence itself but that doesn’t seem to me what’s really basic to YE…

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Motivation is a huge difference. You’re right. Flat Earthers have no relationship with God to pursue, no great memories from parents’ teachings, no connection (in their mind) to love of God modeled by Jesus, nor connection to their understanding of the sin/salvation narrative.

Having just listened to “The Fool and the Heretic,” I don’t get the idea that Todd Wood and Kurt Wise are making their stance because of kookiness or contrariness. It’s harder to overcome than that. I’m glad that the folks on Biologos are sympathetic to the rest of us in our struggle.

I would agree that it is apples and oranges to compare the accuracy of these two very different numerical quantities. It is just too easy to represent these measures in a different way that reverses the accuracy of the two. However I completely disagree with William’s objection. Both are exactly the same issue when it comes to how literally one treats the details in the Bible which have nothing to do with the purpose of the text or the intent of the author. Furthermore, even though I find fault in the argument, I find merit in the claim itself, from both the standpoint of epistemological justification and from that of definition. While only 9 countries can send a rocket into space in order to verify the shape of the earth, 50 countries have labs for measuring the age of fossils and rocks. The word flat has multiple meanings and according to at least one of them, that of levelness (i.e. by gravitational potential energy), the surface of the Earth is indeed large scale flat.

Motivations vary and are far from measurable. One might as well claim that the auras are different, so I am not buying this argument.

What is an “aura”?
I was, I guess, thinking from my own point of view. Rather than a rebel, I tend to be an “older brother,” following the status quo (I am actually the eldest in my family. Maybe that’s why). When I argued from YEC point of view, it was because I relied on my upbringing (as listed above), rather than what I understand Flat Earthers to think from. I could be wrong. Regardless, I appreciate the attitude of Biologos in discussion, and your insight and studies. Thanks.

No, most fossils were formed during Noah’s Flood. This at least makes sense of the soft tissue and 14C found in dinosaur fossils multiple times by different researchers.
Some, such as frozen mammoths, were formed during the post flood ice age. Some even later, and possible some even from before the flood.

God does not lie.

Both YE and OE agree that William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066AD. Both agree that Jesus lived from approx 4BC to 30AD. Both agree that King David ruled in 1000BC. So there is exact agreement over the last 3000 years; it is not off by 750,000 years every year.
(Unless of course when I say Donald Trump was elected 2 years ago you say it was really 1.5 million years ago)

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The soft tissue in dinosaur fossils was far, far, far, far, far too small and far, far, far, far, far too badly degraded to be consistent with burial just 4,500 years ago.

The amounts of carbon-14 were indistinguishable from levels of contamination introduced through sample preparation.

Where does the Bible say anything about a post Flood ice age? Hezekiah 3:16? Mark chapter seventeen? Psalm 151? Or the chapter that says “The quality of mercy is not strained, it falleth as the gentle rain from heaven”?

I think that’s a good point that I need to elaborate on in the OP somehow (I’m not sure yet). I might grant past 2500 years but see why you chose about 3000 years.

The error for the YEC model begins obviously going beyond 3000 years ago which begins to grow so rapidly that over 4,500,000,000 years the error is about 4,499,994,000 years. The main difference is that the flat earth model has a consistent error for each mile while the amount of error of the young earth model varies wildly. Are you aware of an actual young earth timeline that squeezes a timeline like this into 6 kya @aarceng?

Why are many people drawn to the flat earth model? It could be contrarianism sprinkled with fundamentalism (which already is contrarian to ‘the world’). Just a quick internet search pulled up sites like these:

Sorry I meant on average the error of the young earth model is 750,000 years per year but the actual deviation from the conventional timeline doesn’t begin until 2-3 thousand years ago. I suppose one could technically then argue that if one looks at time locally the young earth model is very precise (i.e. time of lookback < 3,000 years) in which case this would make it more accurate that the flat earth model over small scales and I have some revising to do! :hushed:

I’ve often wondered about that. Can you post the scientific references that provide estimates of how much soft tissue SHOULD be present in fossils from 4,500 years ago vs fossils from 65+ million years ago so that I can follow up?

So what you’re saying is that 14C dating for ages of ~40,000 years is unreliable due to contamination? How much does that contamination affect 14C dating in general? Do they not have sample preparation techniques to prevent contamination?

There is a possible reference in Job but if you have a look at the areas iced over in the ice age you will see that the middle east region was not ice bound so it is not surprising that post flood writings from that region don’t mention it.

Chris, those are good questions, and there are good explanations as to how that works. Here is a link to an often referenced article that explains radiometric dating in general and has a section on Carbon 14. It has a lot of good information. https://asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html#page%2012

Basically, regarding contamination, when you get to near the limits of C14, they are measuring very very small amounts, so biofilms etc become an issue as well as just dealing with “background noise” even assuming the original sample was well prepared and uncontaminated by more recent carbon. As a result, the error bars are larger, and a definite date is more difficult to determine, so the result is given as a larger range. A little contamination is not going to make a huge difference in a more recent specimen, but the same amount will make the results in an old specimen invalid.

At least that is my limited understanding. There are others around who have a much better grasp of dating than I. I was always sort of an awkward socially impaired geekish guy, so dating was always a challenge. Fortunately, my wife loved me anyway. :wink:

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I still don’t understand why the YEC folk want to include one ice age in the earth’s history (given there is evidence for 5). Perhaps they realize it is impossible to squeeze all 5 into their timeline. However, the folks over at AIG appear to apply the hated historical science to try and date their single ice age. Article is here.

Interesting article. The timeline is really messed up though, as it would take time to build up ice sheets, and time for them to melt, and there just is not enough time for that to happen in the YEC version. By the time of Abraham, the description of the land is essentially the same as it is today.

Cooking With A Weighbridge Syndrome

Chris, there is a whole plethora of young-earth arguments that suffer from exactly the same problem. They take a set of measurements at – or even beyond – the extremities of the range to which the techniques concerned apply, and claim that because the results are flaky right at the limit, that means that the entire discipline of geochronology is so hopelessly broken right across the board that it can’t tell the difference between thousands and billions.

I call these arguments “Cooking With A Weighbridge arguments”, because they are like baking a cake using a Department of Transport weighbridge to measure out your butter, eggs, milk, sugar, flour, chocolate and fruit for a birthday cake for a family of four, and then, when the results come out all mushy and inedible, claiming that that means that Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, Mary Berry, John Torode, Ina Garten and Ree Drummond are all so bad at cooking that for all we know they could be instructing us to make rat poison on their cookery shows.

image

The two examples of evidence you have cited here – soft tissue and radiocarbon in fossils – both fall squarely into both categories.

Contamination levels in carbon-14 can be up to about typically 0.5% modern carbon (pMC), but vary widely within that range. This means that one half life of carbon-14 (5,750 years) it will introduce an error of just ±1%, or 57.5 years. It will be ±2% at two half-lives (11,500 years), ±4% at three half-lives, 8, 16, 32 and 64% at four, five, six or seven half-lives respectively, and once you get beyond eight half-lives (46,000 years), the results become indistinguishable from contamination.

As for soft tissue, if the dinosaurs really had died out only 4,500 years ago, we would expect to find complete carcasses at least somewhere, especially in cold climates, just like we do with the woolly mammoths. Even if only bones were preserved, they would still yield massive quantities of readily sequenceable DNA. We’d have sequenced the entire T-Rex genome by now. The tiny fragments of badly degraded, difficult to extract soft tissue remnants, that to date have never yielded any sequenceable DNA, fall so far short of that expectation that it’s a joke.

I cover these here, with links to some key scientific research papers:

Oh yes, “Out of whose womb came the ice?” A single seven-word sentence that could just as easily refer to a frozen lake as to a continental-scale ice age. Basically, there is not a shred of Biblical evidence for a post-Flood ice age, and certainly not for one lasting an implausibly short time of just 200-900 years.

Have you ever considered the possibility that the Ice Ages (of which there were several) might, just might, have possibly happened before the Flood rather than after it?

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For the American audience, that would be “Weighing on a truck scale.”

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I like it. Makes it even more explicit than the British version. I’d just say “cooking with a truck scale” though. It’s important to emphasise the point that it’s the wrong tool for the job.

There are other analogies one could use too. For example, trying to use a hammer to drive in screws rather than nails, and concluding when it doesn’t work that your entire toolbox is useless for everything.

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My favorite analogy is measuring the length of a typical driveway with your car odometer. It works fine for measuring the distance between two cities, but if you use it to measure your driveway, you will either get 0 or 0.1 miles.

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